22. The Ring (part 2)

          When he held it up for her to see, Princess Hataru, gasped in recognition. “It’s the ring! I loved it so much, but I left it there. So, how─?”

          A flash of pearly white teeth signified Levi’s relief as he explained, “I saw you looking at this ring back in the cave of wonders and noticed how much it complemented your eyes and your dress.” She smiled down at the jewel with a hint of wariness in her eyes, almost afraid to take it. “Don’t worry, though,” he quickly added, “I did ask Antenor before I took it. He’d said he would be happy if you had it because it never fit Nosa’s finger anyway.” Nothing detaining her this time, Hataru pet it gingerly with her own fingers, and the captain queried, “Then, you accept?”

          Tired eyes now full of excitement, the princess nodded and looked him square in the eye, “Of course I do! Frankly, I never blamed you in the first place; you didn’t have to go to the trouble of getting this for me.”

          “Oh.”

          She beamed. “Will you help me put it on?”

          Heedfully, Captain Levi took the sapphire ring between the thumb and forefinger of his hand of flesh and slipped the gold and silver band onto her right ring finger. They both basked in the beauty of the ring, twinkling as if it contained its own source of light and had no need for the sun. Then, everything started going black and Hatru collapsed to the floor. The last thing the girl heard was the captain shouting her name from a far off distance. 

The End

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